Ask yourself the following – Are you a mindful eater? Do you stop when it’s meal time and put away the phone, shut off the tv, and close out the email? Are you sitting at a table (versus driving in the car)? Chances are, like most busy people, you don’t. Instead, in the world of go, go, go, do more in less time, and multitasking, you eat on the run, eat while on the phone, eat while catching up on your tv shows, and eat while on the computer. Raise your hand if you’re eating while reading this post?
How Mindless Eating is Harmful
It might not seem like a big deal, but eating while doing other things can be harmful to your health. Huh (you ask while mid-bite)? First, when you eat while you drive you put yourself (and others) at an increased risk of having an auto accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 20% of injuries caused by vehicle crashes in 2009 happened because a driver was distracted. That’s not just because of eating and driving, of course. Applying makeup, looking for a CD, answering a text are other forms of distractions while driving. But eating while driving isn’t necessary – eat before or after you have to drive somewhere. You won’t starve on the drive, no matter how long it is!
The other kind of distracted eating is when we eat while watching tv or while on the computer. When your mind is fixated on a movie or the latest hit youtube video, it’s shut off from the cues that your body gives you when it’s had enough to eat. So you keep eating and eating and never notice the signal that you’re full. When the TV show, movie, or video is over, you don’t feel satisfied because you don’t remember what you ate. Chances are you’ll grab something else to eat to chase whatever it is that you’re craving. Too many calories = weight gain = increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Solution: turn off the gadgets.
Lose Weight with Mindful Eating
One of the most important things I do when I work with my clients is help them repair their relationship with food. Too often I find that most people, especially women, have a lousy relationship with food and just as dysfunctional relationship with their own bodies. One of the most important steps to repairing these relationships is with Mindful Eating. With Mindful Eating, I encourage the following:
- Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full
- When you eat, just eat (no TV, computer, cell phone, etc.)
- Honor your body
- Eat slowly, put your fork/spoon down between bites, and notice the taste, texture, aroma, and temperature of your food. Really make it a sensory experience to get the full pleasure out of it.
Try this little exercise at your next meal. Before even taking a bite, notice what you have on your plate. Is it colorful? Are there a variety of textures? Next, think about what it took to get this food to you. Who was responsible for growing and caring for the food? Give a little thanks to them. Then take a bite. Put down your fork and chew the food completely before swallowing. What did you notice – was it sweet, salty, sour, or spicy? Then take another bite. what do you notice about the texture – smooth, lumpy, moist, or dry? Keep doing this throughout the meal until you feel the first signal that you are getting full. Remember, it takes 20 minutes for your brain to receive the signal from your stomach that it’s full. Chances are (if you’re following the above steps) it will take you at least that long to get through most of what’s on your plate. You may even have food left over. Great. Wrap it up and have it tomorrow - a meal that delicious should want to be eaten again. At the end of the meal, you should feel satisfied, not stuffed. Eating like this more often, you will take in fewer calories, making it easier to lose those unwanted pounds and keep them off for good.